We exist in an era of music in which success is easily quantified—an artist becomes a sensation based upon on an ever-higher number of views, followers, plays and likes.
By this standard, Norwegian artist Matoma has certainly done big things in a short amount of time, aggregating hundreds of thousands of online followers, and incredibly, seeing his remixes garner millions of plays in just five months. His standout hip hop meets tropical house single “Old Thing Back” currently has hit 90 million plays.
His true achievement, however, is about more than a numbers; it’s about depth, feeling and and that magical symbiotic relationship between the performer and the crowd. In this sense, Matoma, the 24-year old artist born Tom Lagergren, has accomplished something special.
His signature sound is a summer-ready mix of tropical house, breezy funk and classic hip-hop, with influences including Ice Cube, Xzibit and The Notorious B.I.G. While these styles may seem disparate, Lagergren has fused his influences into an infectiously feel good sound, as heard on his remixes and mashups of artists as varied as Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Will Smith, Maroon Five and Axwell.
Rather than choosing a single genre label, Lagergren prefers to simply call his output the future of pop music. His skills as a producer have indeed gained high-level attention from the pop world, with this past May’s “Try Me,” a collaboration with Jason Derulo and Jennifer Lopez, receiving a warm critical response and 50 million more plays so far. Vibe called the track a “perfect tune for drop-top weather” and SPIN labeled it the best song of Lopez’s career.
Matoma’s spring 2015 Midnight Sun tour of the United States was largely sold out. “People were screaming, ‘Matoma,’” Lagergren recalls of those shows, “and I was like, ‘Shit, this is my dream.’” It’s appropriate then, that his current string of dates spanning the United States and Canada has been dubbed the Living the Dream tour.
It’s a dream that has been years in the making, beginning when Lagergren was a music-oriented kid learning to play classical piano. When he tired of the instrument, he began producing music on a laptop in his bedroom. After a stint in the military, he went to University in Norway, got his bachelor’s degree in music production, and assumed he’d become a music teacher. As it turned out, however, life went in another direction after Lagergren started putting his remixes on Soundcloud. He was surprised, and thrilled, to find his music celebrated by listeners around the world.
“Remixing was a really good opportunity to show people my skills,” he says. “I did that for fun, and my Soundcloud profile started growing. I got really inspired and kept going.”
In time, Lagergren became a resident DJ at his university, began playing out around town and gained industry attention. This led to the aforementioned Midnight Sun tour and earned him summer festival dates, clubs and A-list events including Bonnaroo, Electric Forest, Camp Bisco, Hard Summer and the upcoming CRSSD. His recently released single "Feeling Right (Everything Is Nice)” is already getting major traction, and a more substantial Matoma project is slated for release in early November.
For the time being, Lagergren is soaking up the opportunity to play for crowds around the world, flexing his diverse knowledge musical knowledge and making ever-larger audiences feel the same infectious vibrancy that’s instilled in his music. “There’s too much shit going on in the world,” Lagergren says. “I just want people to listen to my music, be happy and feel my love through the music.”
Matoma’s success thus far proves that audiences are indeed feeling that love, and loving him right back.